Pulling a jape on a joker

22nd December 2012 – 3.02 pm

It's just me and the static tonight, so here I go, looking for another adventure. Our neighbouring class 3 w-space system tonight has a Loki and Broadsword visible on my directional scanner, but only if I'm new to w-space and d-scan, and as easily startled as Sand People. I'm not, and so not fooled by the hangar and maintenance array's custom names. I'm used to d-scan results. All I see is SMA, CHA, force field. And so no ships, either. I warp out, launch my probes, and perform a blanket scan of the system.

As my probes are getting in to position I check my notes, seeing that this is my fifth visit to this particular C3, and as the last was only two months ago I'm expecting my notes to be fresh. That occupation is listed in the previous record as 'no' I can only assume that circumstances have changed. That means new arrivals. New and perhaps not quite settled yet. I hope some of the local pilots come on-line. As it remains quiet for now, I simply settle down to sift through the eight anomalies and sixteen signatures, looking for wormholes and sites for potential ambushes.

Three wormholes jump out at me immediately, mingled with one gas pocket, with two chubby and one skinny. The system doesn't have a static connection to null-sec k-space, so the skinny wormhole is going to be a random outbound link, which is nice and encourages me to speed through the other signatures. One more wormhole crops up in my results, as well as lots of gas, some rocks, and two magnetometric sites. Now to reconnoitre the wormholes I've found. A K162 from class 4 w-space would be neat, even one sitting at half-mass, if it weren't reaching the end of its life. Much better is an outbound connection to class 2 w-space, and that's not even the skinny wormhole. The other outbound link leads to class 5 w-space, which is also pretty nifty.

The final wormhole is the expected exit to low-sec empire space. I poke through to bookmark the return route, which today is in an empty system in Kor-Azor, before returning to continue exploring w-space. Rather than diving straight in to a chain of class 5 w-space I choose to see what's behind the I182, and jump to class 2 w-space to a clear d-scan result. The system is tiny too, and I think I'm in an unoccupied system until I notice that one planet is a few million kilometres out of d-scan range, and warp across to see that I definitely am in an unoccupied system. An empty C2 is a curious beast. I can only imagine its two static wormholes lead to a C5 and out to null-sec. Let's see if I'm right.

Four anomalies and eight signatures make the system well-visited, if not settled, and I resolve three wormholes. The pristine connection to null-sec is unsurprising, both for where it leads and that no one before me has visited the wormhole. The wormhole to a second class 2 system is unexpected, but I'm putting it down as a random outbound connection and not static to the system. The third wormhole will be the other static connection, but it doesn't lead to class 5 w-space, surprisingly. No, it actually connects to deadly class 6 w-space. Well, it had to be unappealing.

The wormhole to C6 space is unappealing for most corporations looking to install a tower in a C2, and although I tend towards roaming the lower-class systems myself, I can't help but jump to C6a before C2b. Actually, it isn't my first choice of system to explore, but I remain curiously drawn to wormhole colours, and this C2/C6 connection is unusual. And my luck may be in, as d-scan shows me two towers, a Moa, and a jet-can. Is the cruiser gassing? Why, yes he is, as easily shown by narrowing d-scan's beam and sweeping it across each planet in range. The towers appear, the Moa does not. He's in space. And with a Bestower now, the hauler no doubt collecting harvested gas. I just hope the industrial ship doesn't herald the end of the operation.

I warp away from the two ships, make sure I am well out of d-scan range, and launch combat scanning probes. Throwing them out of the system, I return to where I got a rough bearing on the Moa, from where I can start to hunt the still-present gasser. I narrow down d-scan as I refine the Moa's position in space, until he's sitting in a tight five-degree beam. Adjusting the range gate gives me a curious result, indicating the ship is around 4·5 AU far from me, which is further than sites should get from planets, and has me wonder if he is still gassing. But pulling my view back in the system map shows me a planet that is probably a bit closer to the site than the one whose orbit I've chosen to lurk in. And if that doesn't convince me the ship is gassing in a ladar site, the Moa pooping another jet-can does.

I arrange my probes around the position in space I gauge the Moa to be, make one last check that he is still there, and hit 'scan'. 100% on the Moa, not quite resolving the ladar site. That's good enough. My cloaky Loki strategic cruiser is in warp as my probes are recalled, and I remember to bookmark the Moa's position as I prepare to ambush it. I drop out of warp slightly short of the Moa, who sits stationary and has gas harvesters still actively sucking, which gives me warm feelings about my probes not having been spotted. I decloak, lock on to the cruiser, and start shooting.

There's no escape from my attentions now. At least, not for the ship. My guns chew through shields, armour, hull, and the Moa explodes. I set my sights on the ejected pod but, even though I appear to get a positive lock, it warps clear a moment before it is cracked open. No corpse to add to my collection today, but I get some loot from the wreck before shooting it, and then turn my guns on the jet-can of gas as I align to flee the crime scene. At least there's nothing left behind to incriminate me. Well, except the witness, who turns out to be a member of the Surely You're Joking alliance. They sound a jolly bunch, though, so I'm sure there'll be no repercussions.

Having popped the Moa, I take a better look around the C6. I spotted some big ships on my way to and from launching probes, and I find a third tower holding an Orca industrial command ship, Chimera carrier, and Navy Raven battleship. I also relaunch probes and blanket the system, revealing a whopping thirty-seven anomalies and fourteen signatures. I suppose the locals aren't here for the Sleepers. They're also not members of SYJ, so the Moa came from a different system. Luckily, I still have that other C2 behind me to explore, so I can take the kill and turn around, instead of potentially scanning my way in to trouble looking for more activity. I think I'll do that.

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